- An Ivy League educated former caseworker and educator hailing from Woodbridge, VA and raised in Michigan, Carla Christopher - also known as "The Priestess" - is a poet, publisher, event producer & host, teacher, and speaker based in York, Pennsylvania. Carla was York's 4th Poet Laureate (2011 - 2013) and the City's Arts & Cultural Liaison for 2014 . She is also the founder/co-director of PoemSugar Press (an independent publishing company specializing in first time authors and authors from marginalized communities) and Community Arts, Ink (a nonprofit cooperative of arts organizations seeking to enrich and empower the community through the performing arts). She is a highly involved community activist and a frequent speaker for regional educational institutions and community programs on issues of Social Justice, Racial Justice, and Women's Rights.
Carla is the host of 'Culture and Main; York's Weekly Cultural Showcase' on White Rose Community Television. She additionally produces/hosts frequent periodic special events and poetry venues including "It's NOT the King's English", a monthly poetry showcase and all genre open mic held on the third Friday of each month at King's Courtyard Artist Collective, and "Cafe Word" on 1st, 2nd & 4th Fridays at The Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg.
Carla has been featured on several recordings and in multiple anthologies and publications including Pennessence, Sylvan, The York Dispatch, The York Daily Record, The Hanover Sun and Central PA Magazine. She is the author of multiple collections of poetry including Song (Columbia University Press, 2000) and Baby, Read Me Something with Rhythm (PoemSugar Press, 2011) and multiple CDs of poetry including the ep Of Water Born with the spoken word ensemble, Poetic Voices, on SoulThief Records (2015). Carla has won numerous awards for her work, including multiple citations from the National Federation of Poetry Societies and the Pennsylvania Poetry Society in 2011 and a 1st Place and the Grand Prize 1st Place in the Pennsylvania Poetry Society 2014 competition.
Carla has taught and lectured at York College, Penn State - York, Art Institute - York, Central Penn College in Lancaster & Camp Hill, Harrisburg Area Community College in Harrisburg & York, Messiah College, Elizabethtown College, Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, Dickenson College, and numerous public and charter schools. She designed the curriculum and led the Creative Writing Program for the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Program at William Penn Senior High School during its inaugural year as well as the "I Too, Am America" cultural education curriculum for the Martin Library After-School Program. She has led workshops for the Salvation Army, York County Community Education, The York Community Progress Council, The York Housing Authority and more. She has also led regular workshops for YorkArts and Spoutwood Farm.
Recipient of the 2015 York Unity Award from the City of York
Recipient of the 2015 Christine Lincoln Award for Social Change through the Arts
Recipient of the Key to the City by Mayor C. Kim Bracey (2014 AND 2015)
Recipient of the FAB Award for Community Growth from the LGBT Center of Central PA
Advisory/Executive Board for Nathaniel Gadsden's Writers Wordshop (President)
Equality Fest Executive Board (President)
York Progressives (Vice-president)
Southcentral PA A.C.L.U. (Executive Board Member)
Capitol Region Stonewall Democrats (Executive Board Member)
Executive Committee Member of the York Chapter of NAACP (Education Chair)
Spoutwood Farm and Education Center (Development Chair)
YWCA Racial Justice Committee (Education and Programs Chair)
Former Democratic Party of York County Executive Committee Diversity Representative
Former Pennsylvania Democratic Party Black Caucus Regional Field Coordinator
Former Member of the The Eat-Play-Breathe Campaign for Healthy Living Leadership Board
Former Arts to the Core Inc Advisory Board
York County Federation of Democratic Women (Member-at-large)
Pennsylvania Poetry Society (Member-at-large)
The daughter of an art gallery owner/law professor and a jazz musician/business professor, Carla has a passion for both art AND jazz and has combined law and business into a passion for politics and community mobilization.
- If you don't try to fly,
and so break yourself apart,
you will be broken open by death,
when it's too late for all you could become. ~ Rumi